Apr 18, 2012 News
By Sharmain Grainger
Driven by their passion for travelling and a desire to learn about new
cultures, an Argentine couple yesterday for the first time made Guyana their first English-speaking destination. Accompanied by their four-year-old daughter Zaina, the couple – Matu and Shanti Buscando a Yaiza, who hails from Patagonia, Argentina, has over the years been making their global journey by bus.
The aim is to travel as far as possible across the world in their old Mercedes Benz bus, capturing the picturesque views through photography – which has for many years been one of the couple’s favourite pastimes. They have their eyes set on somehow making Mexico their ultimate destination.
The ambitious mission, according to Shanti, started in November 2005 when the couple decided to sell their home and most of their worldly possessions and buy the bus from a relative.
“We sold our car, our cameras, our furniture and even things in the kitchen to buy a 20-year-old passenger bus,” Shanti recalled speaking fluent English with a deep Spanish accent.
“We were hungry for new culture and we found that the only way to do it was to do it with the bus.”
The bus, she revealed, was already outfitted with a kitchenette and other living facilities and was almost fit and ready to be taken on the road in the quest to fulfil their touring dream.
Their travels initially started in their homeland, but soon expanded to Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. The couple had the option of staying in some countries in excess of six months using the little money they had to buy food and other basic necessities.
During their stay in Peru, Shanti discovered that she was pregnant.
“It was a surprise; we didn’t plan it at all…” she recounted with a smile on her face as she gleefully eyed her young daughter scale a window’s grillwork.
“She is a monkey girl,” said a proud looking Matu, whose English words were barely discernable as he too directed focus to his daughter as his face “lit-up” with a bright smile. Both parents disregarded any possibility of danger.
Continuing the story of their life, Shanti said that it was in the Amazonian lands of Ecuador that she eventually gave birth to Zaina. She explained that their travels were restricted to that country since the roads were bad, compounded by the fact that she had developed some pregnancy complications.
“A few days after she was born we started travelling again…the only home she (Zaina) knows is this (the bus)…there is not a lot of (our) family back in Argentina,” Shanti divulged.
Their travels have not been without challenges, as according to her, they are from time to time confronted with mechanical and financial problems. In fact, so daunting was the journey at one time that they were convinced that Mexico was not a reachable destination. “We found out that there is no way to go to Mexico by driving, without going by boat to Colombia…But it was so expensive for the bus to cross too.”
Overwhelmed by some level of frustration, the couple decided to head to Venezuela and was forced to remain there for the longest period yet, since their bus developed some mechanical problems.
In order to address their mechanical woes, they decided to compile their photographs and facts about their travels into a book with the aim of selling same for financial gain. Compilation, design and printing of the book would take about a year and yet another year was needed to facilitate the sale of the books. The travellers were by then so devoid of finances that they made a request to friends to support their efforts, all of whom were refunded after the sale of their book, which showcases in detail and elegant photographs, their travels.
With a few copies of their publication stored safely in their bus, they decided to make their way back to Boa Vista, Brazil, which they had previously visited, since parts for the bus were available there. Having ensured that all mechanical problems were fixed over a period of three weeks, they made the decision to head to Panama, in hope of finding a cheaper way of getting to Mexico.
Efforts to ensure that the bus was mechanically intact saw the family heading some 20 kilometres away from Boa Vista, effectively reaching the borderline between Brazil and Guyana.
“We initially had no intention of coming to Guyana because people told us that the road is very bad and we can’t pass; they said we couldn’t pass, too, because we don’t have a four-wheel-drive vehicle…so we hadn’t expected to get into Guyana.”
However, at the borderline, the couple observed smaller buses (minibuses) were travelling from Georgetown to Boa Vista. As such they decided to take the chance themselves to travel to Georgetown, a journey which took them two days. They arrived in Georgetown just after noon yesterday. However, this was not before being forced to stop on the East Bank of Demerara to source cooking gas at DOCOL, make new friends, and be introduced to their first meal of eggball and Coca-Cola.
It is impractical, to say the least, that the couple would have been able to not attract attention along the streets of Guyana, given the conspicuous nature of their mode of transportation.
Having brought to a halt their vehicle, which was outfitted with a huge sign on the back reading “We are a family from Patagonia, Argentina. We go to Mexico, can you help us with some diesel and food please?” they were soon befriended.
They were given a very warm welcome by Roberto Tiwari, a Venezuelan who has made Guyana his home, and Omkaar Sharma, a Canada-based Guyanese. Both were ready and willing to assist the touring family. Friendship was soon brewing and discussions about the Argentine family’s next move soon started, with the first option being to head to this publication to announce their arrival in the land of many waters.
According to Shanti, although they were permitted to stay in Guyana for a mere two weeks they are anxious to have their time extended to learn more about the local people and their culture. Those who wish to assist the touring family in any way can do so by contacting them via email address [email protected], follow them on Twitter @amigosdelbicho or check out photographs of their travels at http://picasaweb.google.com/elbichoblog.
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